Difference between a Moving Broker and a Mover

Knowing the difference between a Broker and a Mover is an important part of the moving process. Like most people in this day and age, you will probably turn to the internet to help with your search for a mover. It’s relatively easy to fill out a moving quote form to have movers reach out to you and compete for your business. You may speak to these companies thinking that they are reputable moving companies who have the knowledge and knowhow that a mover should have. But are you really only speaking to moving companies? This is where Brokers come into the picture. This guide will go through the differences between a Broker and a Mover, and how you should approach and treat your interactions with a Broker.

What is a Broker and how do they differ from a Mover?
A Broker is a company that acts as the middle man between you and the actual moving company performing your move. A Broker does not own any moving trucks or equipment, and does not employ a moving staff. The Broker acts as the sales team between you and the moving company, giving you quotes and accepting deposits on behalf of the moving company. Bottom line – these are not the people who will carry out your move. The Broker will choose a mover within their network and use them to perform your move. Because of the nature of a Broker, they may not be located in the area where you are looking for a mover (think of them as a call center).

What could go wrong with using a Broker?
There are several things that could go wrong with using a Broker:

  • They may book a mover for you who is not licensed.
  • They may give you a low estimate only to have the actual moving company charge you something higher.
  • They may not have much actual moving experience and may not be able to answer your moving related questions.
  • They may not be able to find a mover for you and won’t tell you this, letting you think you have a mover booked for your move.

So what should I do to protect myself from Broker issues?
The first thing you should do when speaking to a company is ask them if they are a Broker or Mover. For extra confirmation, ask if they have their own crew, staff, equipment, and trucks to perform your move - A “yes” is a good indication that they are legitimate Movers, a “no” is a good indication that they are Brokers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) suggests that if you decide to use a Broker, you should use this checklist of 8 simple rules to help protect yourself from possible issues:

  1. Make sure they are registered with the FMCSA. If they aren’t registered with the FMCSA you shouldn’t use them regardless of whether they are a Broker or Mover. But looking them up in the FMCSA will confirm what kind of entity they are.
  2. Makes sure they provide you with the FMCSA’s “Your Rights and Responsibilities When you Move” pamphlet and the “Ready to Move” brochure. These documents will educate you on the rights you have when using a moving company.
  3. Make sure they provide you with a list of moving companies that they work with. You can then go ahead and do research on these companies (making sure they are licensed as well).
  4. Make sure they only use movers that are registered with the FMCSA. Movers who are not registered may not abide by the standards set by the FMCSA to protect your rights.
  5. Make sure they have a written contract with the movers they use.
  6. Make sure they have a binding or non-binding estimate on the tariff of the mover that will be assigned to your move. A binding estimate will guarantee the price of your move based on the estimate the movers give you. A non-binding estimate is what the mover believes your move will cost and can charge you up to 10% more than the original estimate.
  7. Make sure that their advertisements reference their physical location, MC (Motor Carrier) number, and the fact that they are Brokers that help schedule your move but do not perform it themselves. When a company has an open information policy, they are more likely to be a reputable company.
  8. Make sure the mover that performs your move does an in-home survey of your belongings. This way you can get a more accurate estimate for you more. A less reputable mover may say it is not necessary only to charge you a large additional sum because of “additional goods” which they would have known about if they did an in-home review.

You can check a Broker’s license status and complaint history with the FMCSA at protectyourmove.gov.

When you use 123Movers.com to receive free moving quotes, you can be assured that we do not work with any Brokers. When our movers reach out to you, you’ll know that you are speaking to real movers.